Fat Shaming: The Product of Small People with Big Egos

by Dr. SooMi Lee-Samuel MD

Two weeks ago, America went wild over Super bowl 51. Immediately following the big event, MVP Tom Brady had only one thing to worry about: where was that darn jersey. Conversely, halftime entertainer, Lady Gaga, was faced with a far more serious issue: intense fat shaming.

Despite the fact that this world-famous singer gave a performance worthy of the record books, Lady Gaga seemingly had the audacity to display a midriff that wasn’t sucked free of fat or smashed flat by a sausage-like garment. God forbid, there may have been a modic um of jiggle.

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And out came the haters.

“Lady Gaga needs to do some crunches if she wants to show her flabby belly.”

“Tried to enjoy Lady Gaga’s performance, was distracted by the flab on her stomach swinging around.”

It is truly a mystery as to why these people write such mean, to say nothing of ridiculous, commentary. If the rationale is that shaming will actually “help,” those on the receiving end, they are wrong; in fact, recent evidence indicates that shaming does more than damage self-confidence, it may also have serious health consequences.

A new study revealed that overweight women who believe negative messages about their bodies are at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes than those who maintain a more positive body image. Published in the journal Obesity, the research focused on the concept of “weight-bias internalization”. Essentially, this is what happens when people are aware of negative stereotypes about obesity and apply those stereotypes to themselves.  Those with higher levels of weight-bias internalization were associated with more cases of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of health issues that raise the risk for heart disease and diabetes.  Since the effects of body mass index (BMI) was not factored in, this indicates that internalization isn’t just a result of weight or other issues, but a risk factor on its own.

Now, are healthcare professionals worldwide worried about Lady Gaga’s physical health? Certainly not. She is a strong, confident woman who knows exactly who she is. Her response to such insults was simple and to the point: “I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too,”

Here is who we should be worried about:  the thousands upon thousands of children, adolescents and adults who are bullied, shamed and blamed by peers, family members and the public at large every single day because they do not fit the American ideal of extreme thinness.

These are the people who we do not hear about because they have no celebrity status. They suffer emotional torment today and if they remain true to the study, will suffer physical issues far into the future.

Fat shaming is done by small people with big egos.

On every level—family, school, the media—we must put a stop to fat shaming, really shaming of any kind.  There is no excuse for bullying or belittling others. People with that much hate in their hearts should put down their phones and get help.

 

 

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